Category Archives: Employers & Background Checks

The laws on what employers can and cannot do when deciding not to hire or promote someone based on a background check. Includes how to get around most federal law by doing the background check using free records on the Internet. Also links to each state’s law on such.

Locating Assets

So he owes you money?  Or it’s a divorce or child support case where they’ve got to be hiding something!  Either way, you’ll want to know all about their assets.

Searching for assets can be tricky.  And there’s no guarantee you’ll find anything.  But this blog will show you some powerful places where to look.  And how to do it fast, easy and all for free!  In fact, while I urge you to read on, you can find all these links Here.

Why Look For Assets?
Here are the obvious and not so obvious reasons to look for assets.

Divorce and Child Support
Sadly, this is the main reason why people try to hide what they own.  See Tricks People Use To Hide Assets From Their Spouse

Someone Won’t Pay You
So they refuse to pay you? The good news is you found their boat, their car, their house and their tractor.  Do they want to lose these things?   Ask them.   Sometimes, a mere threat works wonders!

They’re Lying About Being Rich
Is little orphan Annie pretending she’s Daddy Warbucks?  People lie about their assets for many reasons.  Some do it for personal approval.  But others claim to be rich so you’ll invest in their Ponzi schemes. Think Gregory Crabtree and his association with University of Georgia  football coach Jim Donnan.

Spotting Conflicts Of Interest
People are influenced by what they own.  And knowing their assets can help uncover a hidden conflict of interest.  For example, a judge rules against your solar power company, but you later discover he owns stock in a competing oil company.  Or what about the
non-profit director who rallies against pollution while holding a majority interest in the notorious Smog R US, INC.?  Could assets in these competing ventures influence their day to day decisions?  Could it affect how they vote?  You bet.

Criminal Investigations
How do you know that scumbag A is connected to scumbag B?  Trace their assets!  Often shell companies lead to other shell companies which are held by friends, relatives and known criminal associates.

Wills & Probate
Are you sure their will is up to date?  What if they acquired new property, new stock options or a new company that the family never knew about?  This could happen by oversight. (The decedent was forgetful or never got around to revising their will.)  Or it could happen by design. (The secret car or house was for a mistress or baby mama.)

Assets Lead To Other Assets
The fact is that assets point to other assets.  Suppose for example,  that Company A and Company B have different owners, yet both share the same address and phone number.  Is Company B connected to Company A?   Maybe not on paper.  But what if you found both company owners were related to each other?  Could a friend or family member be hiding assets?

For more on why you should do an asset search, See 10 Reasons To Locate Assets

What Is An Asset?
Most people know why to look for assets.  But what exactly is an asset?  In the broadest sense, an asset is money or something that can be sold for money.  This includes anything from homes and cars to their used paper clip collection.

But don’t waste your time with paper clips.  Start with big ticket items such as their houses and companies. Then work your way down to smaller assets such as their stocks, cars and personal property.

3 Types of Assets:

  1. Real Property, Business Property  & Personal Property
    Examples include:
    Homes, buildings, parking lots, stores, boats, planes, tractors, cattle, cars, antiques, artwork, furniture, medical equipment, jewelry, collectibles & hobby equipment, corporations, partnerships, non profits, and the physical property associated with such.
  2. Cash, Income, Stocks, Bonds…
    Examples include:
    Salaries, retirement funds, pensions, bank accounts, stocks,  annuities, dividends, residuals & royalties from contractual and licensing  agreements, legal settlements, insurance proceeds, book sales, etc.
  3. Intangible/Intellectual Property
    Examples include:
    Copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents,  inventions, proprietary software, goodwill, client lists, buy out agreements, etc.   Like homes or businesses, these have value.  And like any other property, these can be sold to pay off debts.

How & Where To Look For These Assets (An Overview)
How and where you look all depends on what you know about the person.   You can search for assets based on:

  • Asset Types (What you think they own)
    This includes records on corporations, foundations, intellectual property, real property and cars, boats and planes. These can reveal the owner behind them.
  • Where The Person Works
    Often you can obtain salary, stock or pension information if they work for the government, manage a non profit or are an officer or director in a publicly traded company.
  • Their Hobbies, Licenses or Profession
    Many dentists have their own practice, and therefore, own expensive medical equipment such as dental drills and X-ray machines .  Same goes with cosmetic dermatologists who may own expensive lasers and dermabrasion equipment.  A person with a boating or pilot’s license could very well have a boat or small plane,  a gun collector, expensive guns, a sports hobbyist, expensive baseball memorabilia, a farmer, a tractor, a cyclist, a six thousand dollar bike, etc.
  • Usually you can get their profession or hobbies from LinkedIn, the Age & Relative lookup sites, or through Facebook, Twitter or Pipl.com.  But if you can’t, don’t despair.   Many states have occupational search engines where you can search by name just to see what license they have.  For example, in Georgia, you can find all the people in the state named “Adam Rosen” who have a professional license.  Just enter in their name without selecting a profession.  But don’t expect to find any Adam Rosens who are lawyers and doctors.  Typically those are found at the state bar and state medical board websites.
  • Key Events In Their Life
    Did they ever file for bankruptcy? (The bankruptcy petition may list assets.)  What about winning or losing a lawsuit?  (Assets could be listed in divorce, breach of contract, or personal injury claims.)  Did they ever receive insurance benefits from a death in the family or from a car accident?
  • Their Online Announcements
    Did they move and list items for sale on e-Bay or Craig’s list?  What about that new job they announced on LinkedIn or their vacation posts on Facebook?  Did they brag about their timeshare, boat or condo?

Age, Middle Name & Close Friends & Relatives
You might think you need their Social Security number to find their assets.  But it ain’t so!  There are three things far more important.  And yes, these too can be found for free online.

Before you do an asset search, you should know their age, middle name or initial and their close relatives and associates.   You want the first two to make sure you have the right person.  But close friends and relatives are almost as critical.  If someone wants to hide their assets, guess who they’ll do it with!

Age/Relative lookups are not the only place to find relatives.  Checkout Facebook as well.  Make sure to  look for all “friends” with the same last name as your subject.  And then add these to your list of their close friends and associates.

You’ll want to look for the son, daughter, spouse or live-in girlfriend who suddenly acquires a new house, plane or boat!  Same goes with their business partners and close associates.  It’s easy to find out when they got the new house. The online property tax records will show you exactly when they started paying the taxes on it!

Plane and boat registrations are also helpful.  These often list the exact date when the new owner acquired the property.  And the timing matters!

Was it just before or during the divorce? Or right before the bankruptcy?  This is something your lawyer or a judge might find mighty interesting!

What If I Don’t Know Their Middle Name?
If you don’t know their middle name, at the very least, you’ll want their middle initial.  This is critical when searching for a common name.  For example: There may be 1000 John Smiths, but only 25 John R Smiths.

A middle initial is your best friend in Google searches.  It’s also useful when searching the corporation and real property databases.  Sometimes these databases will cut off results after the first 100 returns.  If this happens, add their middle initial for more targeted results.

Test Bookmark
How & Where To Look For These Assets (Specific Links)

 

Find Assets Or Asset Holders Through Their:

Real Property (Who Owns What & Where) Relatives & Associates
Private Corporations (By Individual or Company Name) Intellectual Property (Websites, Patents, ©,® and ™)
Public Corporations (Look up Companies, Officers, Their Stock & Salaries) Foundations & Non-Profits (By Individual or Company)
Personal Property & Fixtures (Boats, Planes, Cars, Equipment…) Life Events (Bankruptcies, Lawsuits)
Government Employment (Salaries & Retirement Funds)

Related Links On How To Find Assets

Employers and Background Checks

2.0 Good Mugshot

No employer wants trouble.  But that doesn’t mean you can screen out any applicant with an arrest or conviction.  This blog will show you the federal laws to watch out for and which ones won’t apply if you do the background check yourself.  I will also point to links where you can read up on your state law requirements.

Keep in mind that you need to follow both federal and state law.  And there’s no uniformity between the states.  What’s fine in Arkansas could be illegal in Arizona.  So read your state’s law.

Federal Laws On Employment Background Checks
When it comes to the workplace, there are two federal laws to be mindful of when doing background checks.  The first is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The Fair Credit Reporting Act is generally understood to refer to credit reports.  But it also applies to Background Reports and Consumer Reports.  The latter is most often used by prospective landlords and contains information about a person’s credit characteristics, character,  general reputation, and eviction records.  It’s a catch all phrase that includes credit reports.

Under the FCRA, you must get a person’s consent before ordering either of these.  If you refuse to rent, hire or retain them, they must be given a copy of this report and the reasons for your decision.

The second set of laws are those from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  These are the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, disability  and national origin.

When it comes to criminal records, the EEOC’s main concern is that there’s no discrimination based on color, race or national origin.  Previously they’ve noted “an employer who adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record could screen out disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos, which could in turn constitute illegal discrimination.”

The good news is that Title VII does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees.  So small employers can ignore The EEOC Guidelines on Arrests and Convictions.

Counting how many employees you have is another matter.  Sometimes part-time employees don’t count.  Sometimes they do.   It all depends on how long they’ve worked for you.  For more, you’ll want to read up on How To Count The Number of Employees An Employer Has.

What If I Do My Own Background Checks?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act covers only certain types of background checks i.e. those you pay for or get through data brokers or through credit/criminal/consumer reports.

It does not cover you doing your own research using free public records.  However, the EEOC rules against employment discrimination (especially against race or color) restrict how you can use the info regardless of how you got it.  Key is if you have over 14 employees.  (Independent contractors don’t count as they’re not employees.)

State Laws On Background Checks
So you have only 5 employees and you’ll do your own background checks, all for free.  Great.  The Federal laws above can’t touch you.  You’re exempt from the FCRA because you’re not ordering a background or consumer report.  Likewise, the EEOC can’t touch you because Title VII applies only to larger employers.

So are you scott-free?  Not quite.  Your state may impose additional legal restrictions on employee background checks.  State laws vary dramatically and can offer additional safeguards to prevent discrimination.

Nor does it always depend on the size of your company or how you got the information.  Some states limit what you can ask, when you can ask it or what you can do with the information regardless of how it was obtained.

For example, under New York law,  it’s illegal for a company with 10 or more employees to exclude all applicants with a criminal conviction.  Rather the employer must show that hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety, or the conviction bears a direct relationship to the job.

In Georgia,  the law is totally different.  There is no restriction on the size of the company.  And in some cases, first offense or parole records cannot be used negatively in the hiring process.

Related Links
State Laws on Use of Arrests and Convictions in Employment
Free Criminal Records Including Arrest Records & Convictions
An Employment Law Tightrope: Criminal Background Checks